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Claims of other Mujaddids

To belie the claim of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of being Mujaddid of the fourteenth century Hijra, it is often asserted that no one previous to him ever claimed to be mujaddid, and that even those great personalities who are generally considered as mujaddids of their times never made this claim themselves but were recognised as such by others after their death. We show below that mujaddids before the time of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad did make such claims.

1. Imam Al-Ghazali (d. 1111 C.E.)

He was mujaddid of the 6th century hijra. A translation of his book al-Munqidh min al-Dalal (Deliverance from Error), by W. Montgomery Watt, was published under the title The Faith and Practice of Al-Ghazali (London: Allen & Unwin, 1953). It can be read at this link. We have also saved it locally here.

In the section entitled V. THE REASON FOR TEACHING AGAIN AFTER MY WITHDRAWAL FROM IT, Al-Ghazali writes:

“On this matter I consulted a number of men skilled in the science of the heart and with experience of contemplation. They unanimously advised me to abandon my retirement and leave the zawiyah (hospice) My resolution was further strengthened by numerous visions of good men in all of which alike I was given the assurance that this impulse was a source of good, was genuine guidance, and had been determined by God most high for the beginning of this century; for God most high has promised to revive His religion at the beginning of each century. My hope became strong, and all these considerations caused the favourable view of the project to prevail.

God most high facilitated my move to Naysabur to deal with this serious problem in Dhu’l-Qa’dah, the eleventh month of 499 (=July, 1106 A.D.). I had originally left Baghdad in Dhu’l-Qa`dah, 488, (= November, 1095), so that my period of retirement had extended to eleven years. It was God most high who determined this move, and it is an example of the wonderful way in which He determines events, since there was not a whisper of it in my heart while I was living in retirement. In the same way my departure from Baghdad and withdrawal from my, position there had not even occurred to my mind as a possibility. But God is the upsetter of hearts and positions. As the Tradition has it, ‘The heart of the believer is between two of the fingers of the Merciful’.

In myself I know that, even if I went back to the work of disseminating knowledge, yet I did not go back. To go back is to return to the previous state of things. Previously, however, I had been disseminating the knowledge by which worldly success is attained; by word and deed I had called men to it; and that had been my aim and intention. But now I am calling men to the knowledge whereby worldly success is given up and its low position in the scale of real worth is recognized. This is now my intention, my aim, my desire; God knows that this is so. It is my earnest longing that I may make myself and others better. I do not know whether I shall reach my goal or whether I shall be taken away while short of my object. I believe, however, both by certain faith and by intuition that there is no power and no might save with God, the high, the mighty, and that I do not move of myself but am moved by Him, I do not work of myself but am used by Him. I ask Him first of all to reform me and then to reform through me, to guide me and then to guide through me, to show me the truth of what is true and to grant of His bounty that I may follow it, and to show me the falsity of what is false and to grant of His bounty that I may turn away from it.”

(Underlining is ours.)

Al-Ghazali has clearly referred here to being appointed by God as mujaddid at the head of the century in accordance with the hadith about mujaddids, and to have been given a mission of reform and guidance of people from God.

Note that in the Introduction, the translator refers to Al-Ghazlai in the following words:

“Al-Ghazali has sometimes been acclaimed in both East and West as the greatest Muslim after Muhammad, and he is by no means unworthy of that dignity.”

2. Shaikh Ahmad of Sirhind (d. 1624)

He is commonly known as Mujaddid Alif-i Sani, meaning mujaddid of the second millennium of Islam.

1. There is a well known book about some aspects of the thought of Shaikh Ahmad, entitled The Mujaddid’s Conception of Tawhid by Burhan Ahmad Faruqi (Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Lahore, 1940).

At this link we provide a few pages from the Preliminary discussion in this book. Please refer to pages numbered 1, 2 and 3:

“The Shaikh himself had the inspired belief that he was a Mujaddid.” (p. 2)

The footnote on page 2 quotes two hadith reports specifically prophesying his appearance.

In footnote 1 starting on page 2 and continuing on page 3, it is stated:

“The Mujaddid keenly realises the need of a great Reformer in a letter to his son Khwaja Muhammad Sadiq (1000-1025 A.H.). … Further he expressly claims for himself the dignity of Mujaddid-i-Alf-i-Thani.”

References to his Maktubat (Collection of Letters) are given by the author for these statements.

2. We further show the claims of Shaikh Ahmad from the study Sufism and ShariahA Study of Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi’s effort to reform Sufism, by Muhammad Abdul Haq Ansari (The Islamic Foundation, Leicester, UK, 1986). The Islamic Foundation was set up by admirers of Maulana Maudoodi in the 1970s.

At this link we display pages 94 to 99 of this book, and mark certain passages by a red line in the left margin, which we refer to below.

It is clearly stated (p. 94 and over to p. 95) that Shaikh Ahmad claimed to be mujaddid, who would purify the prevailing concepts about Islam to the Islam of the Holy Prophet’s time. We are also told:

“…his claim that he is the renovator of Islam at the end of its first and beginning of the second millennium, high-sounding though it is, is nevertheless substantially true.” (p. 95)

Then there is a discussion of allegations against him, based on a vision of his, of claiming superiority over the Companions of the Holy Prophet (p. 95).

On page 96, he gives as example a vision of Shah Waliullah and explains that his dream meant that he was “being commissioned by the Prophet to revive his Islam”. (We discuss the claims of Shah Waliullah separately below.)

On pages 97 to 98, he quotes extracts from a letter by Shaikh Ahmad, containing the following words:

“I am a direct disciple of God, and my hand is a substitute for the hand of God. I am a disciple of Muhammad through a number of links. … but I am a direct disciple of God with no links in between. Hence I am a disciple of Muhammad as well as his colleague … Though I am a dependant, I have a kind of independence”.

The author comments after these extracts that: “When he was questioned about this letter and his claim of partial independence from the Prophet, he explained the point at length”.

He further states on p. 98:

“The other point which Sirhindi hints at here and has stated elsewhere more clearly, is that his walayat is not an ordinary kind of walayat, but one which in orientation and results is very close to the walayat of the Prophet.”

3. In court of Emperor Jahangir

Shaikh Ahmad writes in one of his letters, written while he was staying in the court of the Mughal emperor Jahangir, that on the night of 17th Ramadan he was teaching the king about Islam, and among the teachings he explained to Jahangir was the “finality of prophethood and the coming of a mujaddid in every century”.

Here is the image of the page from his collection of letters, Maktubat, Part 6, vol. 3, p. 128, Letter number 43. The text we refer to is indicated by a red line under it.

3. Shah Waliullah of Delhi (d. 1763)

Shah Waliullah is regarded as the next mujaddid after Shaikh Ahmad, being the mujaddid of the 12th century Hijra. His claim has already been mentioned incidentally in the book quoted just above.

In the book Saints and Saviours of Islam by Dr Hamid Naseem Rafiabadi, Reader at the Shar-i-Hamdam Institute of Islamic Studies, University of Kashmir, India, published 2005, the following evaluation of Shah Waliullah is given:

“He was conscious of his importance and role. He has claimed in Tafhimat that he is the Mujadid of twelfth century after he completed the mission of propagating the secrets of Shariah and religion and started the reconciliation between the controversial problems.

At another place he says that he is the Mujadid, wasi and Qutb of the present times and God willing his endeavours will usher into a new life for the Muslims.” (p. 133)

(This book is online in Google Books at this link.)

We hope in future to quote some of Shah Waliullah’s visions from his book Fuyuz-ul-Haramain.

Views of Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maudoodi

Maulana Maudoodi, while he does not agree that mujaddids made it obligatory upon Muslims to accept them, nonetheless writes:

“…some revered men of the past have no doubt claimed that as inspired by Allah they were the mujaddids of their ages…”

(A Short History of the Revivalist Movement in Islam, Islamic Publications Ltd., Lahore, 1979, p. 127)

He also expresses the following opinion about Shaikh Ahmad of Sirhind and Shah Waliullah:

“Now let us consider the claims put forth by Shah Waliullah and the Mujaddid of Sirhind. I am too well known for my conviction that I do not regard our great men of the past as innocent and infallible. While I give them full credit for their good work, I do not spare them for their failings. … Therefore, let people say what they like but I cannot help saying that asserting themselves to be the mujaddids and referring time and again to their ‘Divine inspirations’ was one of the few mistakes committed by these great men.” (ibid., pp. 134–135)

Whatever may be Maulana Maudoodi’s views as to their “mistakes”, he has admitted that these great men such as Shah Waliullah and Shaikh Ahmad of Sirhind did themselves claim to be mujaddids and referred to their Divine inspirations in this connection.